Assessing the hydrophobicity of glycopeptides using reversed-phase liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry

Junyao Wang, Aiying Yu, Byeong Gwan Cho, Yehia Mechref

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retention time is one of the most important parameters that has been widely used to demonstrate the separation results obtained from liquid chromatography (LC) platforms. However, retention time can shift when samples are tested with different instruments and laboratories, which hinders the identification process of analytes when comparing data collected from different LC systems. To address this problem, hydrophobicity index was introduced for retention time normalization of the glycopeptides separated by reversed-phase LC (RPLC). Tandem MS was used for the detection and identification of glycopeptides. In addition, the influence of different types of glycans on the hydrophobicity of peptide backbones was studied by comparing the retention time of glycopeptides with their non-glycosylated counterparts. The hydrophobicity of tryptic digested glycopeptides derived from model glycoproteins, including bovine fetuin, α1-acid glycoprotein, and haptoglobin from human plasma, were evaluated based on the hydrophobicity index of the standard peptides from a peptide retention time calibration mixture. The reduction of hydrophobicity of multiple peptide backbones was observed due to the hydrophilic glycan structures. By comparing the hydrophobicity index of glycopeptides collected from different time and instruments, the day-to-day and lab-to-lab comparisons suggested high reliability and reproducibility of this approach. The RSD% of hydrophobicity index from inter-lab experiments was 1.2%, while the RSD% of retention time was 5.1%. Then, the applications of this method were demonstrated on complex glycopeptide samples extracted from human blood serum. The hydrophobicity index can be applied to address the retention time shift when using different instruments, thereby boosting confidence of the characterization of glycopeptides.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464237
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
StatePublished - Sep 13 2023


  • Glycopeptides
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Reversed-phase LC
  • Tandem MS


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